Book Review: Triggered
How Junior Managed to Turn a Conspiracy Into Libel, and Expose His Own India Trip
The one charming, insightful section I found in this book is in Chapter 4: Class Warfare. It isn’t really about class warfare — it’s about Don Jr.’s experiences at boarding school, where the dean taught him to shoot on the school’s two gun ranges, and later took him hunting. Another teacher introduced him to fly-fishing.
For a total of three pages, we get a glimpse of the best of the young man he was then — fascinated with nature and the outdoors, passionate about conservation, in love with the wilderness. For a few pages, he’s humble, self-deprecating, and funny. In spite of the jabs he currently receives about his trophy photos, if Trump Jr. went on a year-long hiatus to hunt and fish, I would be happy to read that memoir. I can even visualize a reality TV show with him as host.
But sadly, even that chapter ends with the usual paean to his father, praising everything Trump Sr. says, does, and is.
“I’M NOT MAD.” These are the first three words in the book. And they are capitalized. But yes, he is definitely mad. Triggered, bitter, angry, resentful and just generally offended by everything and everyone. And he proceeds to prove it on every page with vicious rants targeting everyone including lefty-leftists-socialists, Democrat politicians, Hollywood, and of course, the “fake media”.
The set up of every chapter is the same. He spends 10–12 pages tossing snark, and ends with 1–3 pages praising his father.
But there’s nothing in the book that the nation and the world haven’t already heard in sound bites on the morning and evening Fox News shows, and from other Trump-supporting personalities. It’s all the same diatribes, same excuses, same insults, over and over again.
In fact, Junior’s favorite phrase is: “Yeah, right.”
I actually stopped counting the number of times he made this sophomoric response. It seems to crop up every 2–3 pages. Trump Junior is six years older than my son, and my son stopped talking like that age 14.
What is the point of this book? There doesn’t seem to be one. It’s mostly just a giant gas fart lit on fire. This would have been a golden opportunity for the Trump family to discuss policies. Actual, living policy. Plans for America’s future. Positive talking points on jobs, health care, society. A chance to be aspirational, or insightful.
In fact, the missed opportunity to provide talking points is shocking.
Don Junior missed a huge opportunity here to offset his ire with something that fans can use to actually convince hearts and minds, instead of repelling them. He could have vented his spleen just as thoroughly in half the space, investing the rest of his literary real estate in something that would actually create loyalty.
The Trump-as-Victim Mindset
The entire book is pretty much a never-ending litany of every insult, accusation and criticism that has ever been launched at him, his father and his sister.
In fact, that seems to be the only point of the book — to catalog every insult and fan the flames of hatred among the Trump voting bloc. It reeks of his father’s all-consuming need for revenge and payback. His father is Sauron, and Trump Jr. is being sucked into Mordor’s all-consuming darkness and greed for praise.
Playing the Race Card
In the chapter “Not Exactly the Statue of Liberty” Trump talks about how his great-grandfather Frederick emigrated to America and worked as a barber. Unfortunately, this passage does not have the charm of his boarding school memories — it is tinged with anger and resentment over accusations of racism that have been levied at his family, particularly his father and his grandfather, Fred.
At the same time, whenever he refers to “illegal” immigrants they are always criminals laden with ten pounds of heroin.
These are the people that the liberals would rather not talk about. They like to pretend that there’s no difference between a good immigrant and a bad one. In other words, someone who enters the country illegally, carrying ten pounds of heroin, should be afforded the same rights as someone who has come in to be a doctor.
In Trump’s scenarios, there is never any acknowledgment that people enter the US, undocumented, yet seeking work and an opportunity to become legal citizens. There is no admission that many green card agriculture workers have been waiting 10 years for their citizenship papers to come through. There is no recognition that there are “citizenship advocates” who charge immigrants thousands of dollars in phony fees, essentially scamming them out of their earnings.
No. In Trump’s world, you are begrudgingly accepted as an immigrant if you have papers. If you do not, you are, ipso facto, a criminal.
As if that weren’t racist in and of itself, he takes it even farther by accusing every Democrat, progressive, and liberal of harboring fugitives. He then goes on to accuse John F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy of luring immigrants to our shores in order to addict them to welfare and make them a captive voting bloc.
Meanwhile, his father, who has loudly and repeatedly promised his base that he will limit both legal and illegal immigration, has just whisper-promised his corporate donors — who are begging for low-wage workers — that he will increase temporary worker visas in 2020.
There’s even more puzzling stuff. On page 94 (hardbound edition) he says a friend visiting Ellis Island quoted a plaque as saying:
Ellis Island inspectors carefully weighed the prospects of new arrivals, especially those of women and children intending to rejoin husbands and fathers in this country.
Trump claims this is from the Immigration Act of 1882, and he uses it to support his family’s “wealth test”, meaning that immigrants should not be allowed in if they are deemed a welfare burden to society. It seems a bit harsh, historically, given that in 1882 women like his great-grandmother (whom he never refers to by name) were expected to raise a family, not work as wage-earners. (Side note: Trump Junior refers to his mother several times in the book, but never by name.)
And yet on page 91, Trump says: “In 1885 … there was no social safety net like there is today.”
In the space of three pages, Trump went from “no social safety net” to claiming our country’s safety net was straining at the seams.
Aside from this family’s routine hypocrisy, this also demonstrates that the editors at Hachette Book Group were sloppy. Or, that Trump didn’t listen. Either way, a good editor would have caught that. There are other niggling details as well, like copyediting faux pas. Nothing major, just an extraneous word out of place, a few floating articles and conjunctions. But that also says to me that this book was rushed through the publication process, without multiple copyediting and proofreading passes.
Junior Just Made His Father’s Outlandish Hunter-China Story Libelous
Trump Senior is always cagey about his duplicitous claims. When he knows he’s lying, he dances around the issue. He never puts things in writing, other than his daily Twitter insults. He doesn’t allow note-taking. No audio record. In interviews, he relies on innuendo. “Everyone knows it,” he says. “We’ll see.” “She might be going through some things soon.”
In early 2020, Trump Senior finally let go of his Hunter-in-Ukraine conspiracy, when it was pointed out to him that:
- a) keeping the focus on Ukraine also kept his own controversy alive,
- b) Hunter was not the only American on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma — there were two other high-value Americans, including a CIA officer, plus a former president of Poland. So, that got real awkward real fast.
But Trump Sr. is never short on tales, and his fallback story is Hunter-in-China. His claim is that Hunter Biden traveled to China with his father on Air Force Two (which is true), met with government leaders, and came home with a cool $1 billion in his pocket.
Until now, Trump Sr.’s telling of the story has always been tinged with sarcasm and hyperbole. He posits it as a “Who really knows what happened?” kind of story. Senior gets his populist media supporters to recirculate the innuendo, and he lets it grow organically from there. Is it fiction? No. But it’s also not true. It’s a story cleverly crafted from half-truths and colored in with supposition and hyperbole. Is it slander? Yes. But what’s a little mud-slinging in an election year?
Trump Junior, however, has taken it to a whole new level. It is now libel.
Junior has written it down as if it is fact, published the tale, is selling it and making a profit from it, while damaging his father’s political opponent with disproven tales. That gives the Bidens solid legal footing to sue for libel.
In Junior’s telling:
“According to press reports, ten days later, Hunter’s new hedge fund signed a billion-dollar deal with the Bank of China, which is owned by the Chinese government. That deal was expanded to $1.5 billion a little while later.”
Trump Senior’s fantastical telling was even more elaborate:
“When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund — and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China — and he’s there for one quick meeting, and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing.”
Hunter Biden is a minority partner in a cross-cultural exchange fund created by his actual partnership, Rosemont Seneca. However, in the larger exchange fund, which is called BHS Partners, Hunter is only a 10% partner. The formation documents for BHS had been in the works long before the Air Force Two trip. While in China, Hunter met Jonathan Li of Bohai Capital briefly for a social visit and photo opp.
The Trump claims of a “billion-dollar deal with the Bank of China” are completely bogus. The figure of $1.5 billion was a stated investment goal from the BHS business plan, which was submitted to the Bank of China, a financier in Bohai Capital. No one knows whether the $1.5 billion goal was ever reached. The Bank of China never gave Hunter Biden, or his business, $1.5 billion.
Trump Junior’s Own “Hunter Biden” Trip to India
The Trump family hypocrisy is on full display in Chapter 9, “China Joe”.
The copyright for Triggered is November 2019, which means that Trump Jr. had to have spent a good part of late 2018 and early 2019 writing this book.
In 2018, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — who runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric Trump — spent several days in India promoting the family’s developments, attending a champagne dinner with condo buyers who plunked down $39,000 deposits and bringing in millions of dollars in new sales. His trip was preceded by a huge luxury property ad blitz. While there, he also met with Prime Minister Modi behind closed doors. The next year, Trump’s Indian business partners flew 100 early buyers of his luxury condos near Delhi to visit Trump Tower and Trump’s Ferry Point golf course in New York City as a way to generate interest in the properties in India. One attendee gushed afterward about meeting the son of a U.S. president on the trip.
Some of the Trump Organization’s business partners in India are also connected to the government, creating potential conflicts of interest. Some face lawsuits and investigations into financial wrongdoing. And some have touted their relationship with the U.S. president in promotional materials and granted buyers access to members of the first family.
Trump Junior also took to the stage with international dignitaries to discuss international relations. As one official points out, “The assumption is he has his father’s ear. By talking about international relations and sharing the stage with government officials, he’s acting as an informal ambassador for the U.S. at the same time he’s selling properties in India. It just blurs the lines even more.”
Trump Junior’s claims about Hunter Biden are pure deflection. He himself is the one guilty of blurring lines, leveraging his connection with a U.S. presidency for lucre and profit, and taking unsupervised private meetings with world leaders.
Still, in all the flames and anger of Triggered, there is that one tiny spark. A too-short glimpse of the young man Trump Jr. could be if he were released into the wild.